Sunday, July 3, 2011

Switch Rods....WTF!

Look at this pile of graphite
Now I know that I am going to piss some people with this post, but I have to say something. Switch rods in my opinion are a super specialized and situational tool. In the nicest way that is all I have to say about that. I think they suck.

Now here is the problem with the switch rods (in my opinion). They are or become to heavy for true single hand casting, all day. The rods also are short right, this reduces leverage when spey casting. Now you don't need a ton of leverage for floating line work, I agree. But when people want to cast Skagit lines with switch rod here is where things get weird. Most of the switch rods that I think have a nice casting stroke are soft. This puts them in the realm of 10.5' to 11 feet in length and usually in the form of a 7 wt or lighter. Now that I have sacrificed all my leverage with a switch rod. I then need a heavier rod to cast a heavier Skagit line in order to cast the same sink tips and flies that I would cast on a full sized spey rod. A full sized spey rod in my oppion of spey rods starts at 13 feet. By condensing the rod length the rod must become stiffer. Making these rods become almost completely timing dependent. Taking away from the feel of the rods casting a fishing ability. Stiffer rods are tougher to cast plain and simple.

Now to make things even more confusing in the world of spey lines. A 7 wt spey line typically won't work on a 7 wt switch rod. That's nothing new right Sage's 7 wts are usually 9 wts at least. The fact of the matter is now we have more lines on the market, more choices and for the average guy. I can see why and how they might be confused in the line world.  

Do I believe in tackle evolving?? Yes, but as new products come into play the manufacturer keeps the old typically outdated product as well and so now we have 2 or in some cases 3 lines in the same grouping by one manufacturer. This whole ideology for producing new lines while still holding on to the technology makes everything more complicated for us all.

Last but not least my favorite Switch Rod scenario!!! The guy how totally believes that he can buy one switch rod to fit 5 different fishing applications all with only the one rod and one line. I love this because just for steelhead fishing alone you need two. Then throw in overhead for bass, surf casting for stripers and, dry fly fishing trout. This just kills me. This person needs 4 lines at least and maybe even 5 to do all those things well with one rod, the fish ranging form 8" trout to in the case of the strippers 20 lbs. This just can't be done well with the current situation.

The last thing I want to say is that I have seen it a ton of times a guy wants to get into two handed fishing and thinks a switch rod is gate way. I always tell them that they will be back in less than 3 months to buy a spey rod. I don't think that I have been wrong on this yet. What ever the reason, the person comes back and buys a spey rod and never picks up his switch rod for steelhead again. Remember all these posts are just food for thought. If you don't like the post, that's fine with me too.

Tight lines,


  1. Pretty insightful brother. I'm constantly amazed at the folks who look at my 15 or 17 footers and immediately make some snide remark about having to work so hard. The reality is that with a matched line and reasonably good technique...(you know how badly I cast) the leverage of the longer rod and the matched line REDUCES the amount of total work and makes it way easier to cast all day long. I have a small switch, but it's a very specialized tool, as you point out. It's not an all a arounder like a 13 for 7 would be. Or a 15 for 8 for that matter.....

  2. WEll said!
    I totally agree with what you said! Travis
    my shortest rod is a 12' ... already feel "the switch spirit" in it, which have caused the lost of some leverage...but as you said, it is still a fun rod for particular and specialized fishing scenario... so I will echo your suggestion, buy a full length spey rod first! : )

  3. Finally a voice of reason in the blogosphere on switch rods. Probably the one good benefit is that they have probably helped sustain rod makers who are on the edge of their survival.

  4. Where can I surf cast for Strippers? I have fished Stripers many times, but I think I'd like to see some of these Strippers. Do you have a dollar bill pattern you like?

  5. Kens brother Tracy summed it up pretty well once. "If you're gonna spey cast, get a proper rod and friggin' spey cast."

  6. To each his own. I love my switch / short spey two handers for swung fly Steelhead,Trout and River Smallies deep to top water. I used to own "real 13' + " spey rods. They are great if one is using short or mid belly spey lines, longer rod buys you a longer line but, for spey shooting heads ~ ?

    To each there own. I look at the size rods some are still toting around these days for the short heads they use, the size rivers used on, size fish.................and just shake my head.

  7. For making 40' casts when steelhead fishing from the river bank, as you suggest in one of your instructional videos, I don't need a 13' spey rod.